Does Pashinyan have a strategy
The Armenian leadership, surrounded from all sides, is trying to choose the best option for overcoming political isolation. Nikol Pashinyan's government faces a difficult task: to reduce the degree of popular censure by knocking out from the hands of the so-called opposition its main tool for squeezing the prime minister out of politics - public anger.
The pseudo-patriotic bloc of the Armenian opposition has chosen a strategy of attrition, according to which Pashinyan must waver and resign from the post of head of government. However, Pashinyan is in no hurry to leave, because he cannot guarantee himself a secure future in Armenia and beyond, taking into account the kind of rhetoric that comes from the lips of his political opponents. No one dares to storm the government, let alone take responsibility for a military or constitutional coup. The illegitimate government is extremely vulnerable, and among the existing political blocs of post-war Armenia there is no force capable of rallying around itself simultaneously the army, society, law enforcement agencies, and numerous bureaucratic apparatus. Therefore, the so-called patriots rushing to power, reacting to any crisis moments in relations between Pashinyan and various departments, can only heat up emotional tension in society in the hope that Pashinyan's party will eventually lose its nerves.
The prime minister's positions are unstable, and speculation around his imminent political suicide should have dispelled early elections. But taking into account the fact that the elections for Pashinyan are now a rather dangerous event, the prime minister will try to divert public attention from the topic of a possible rotation of power. This was the reason for the leitmotif of the March 1 rally held by the prime minister's supporters in the center of Yerevan. During Pashinyan's speech, everyone drew attention to his words about the need for a referendum to restore a semi-presidential form of government in Armenia. Opponents recalled to the head of the Cabinet of Ministers how in January 2020 he criticized this form of government.
Pashinyan is an experienced political strategist who knows how to manipulate public opinion. It would seem that the proposal to hold a referendum on changing the form of government, unexpected for post-war Armenia, seems inappropriate, but Pashinyan is not accidentally announcing this process for October. Spring and summer are ahead, a time favorable for street demonstrations, which Pashinyan's opponents could take advantage of by finally blocking the work of the government. Whether or not the announced referendum will be held for Pashinyan does not matter now, since this next high-profile political campaign is akin to the constitutional reforms that he tried to implement literally last year, before the war. The current campaign is designed to remove people from the streets, creating the illusion of political reform in society. During this time, Pashinyan will certainly try to convince the public that his hasty departure from politics has no practical benefit for the country.
The current situation is pushing Pashinyan and President Armen Sarkissian into the political embrace. Sargsyan's policy is still limited to attempts to prevent associations of his name with one or another political bloc. He took a neutral position in the conflict between the prime minister and the generals. At the same time, Sargsyan keeps aloof, but in the event of Pashinyan's dismissal, he may turn out to be an unnecessary figure in the political field of Armenia.
One way or another, during the spring and summer, Pashinyan will have to make every effort to prevent the popularization of the idea of restoring separatist power, so that the name of the second president, Robert Kocharian, does not become relevant for post-war Armenia. Kocharian is Pashinyan's most dangerous opponent, who is ready to coolly wait for the next or early presidential elections to be held. It is not known whether Kocharyan will be able to get rid of criminal prosecution by that time, and it is also unknown whether he will nominate his candidacy in the foreseeable future.